A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Aftermath is a drama based on a true story about a horrible plane crash. It explores the effects the crash has on both a man who loses his family and on the air traffic controller who may have been responsible. Violence isn't constant but is brutal/intense; there's a stabbing, spurting blood, and a pool of blood, as well as images of the plane crash site and dead bodies. Guns and knives are also shown. Language includes a single use of "f--king," plus "goddamn." A married couple has sex, kisses, and cuddles, but there's no graphic nudity; star Arnold Schwarzenegger's naked bottom is shown in the shower. A character takes prescription pills to deal with depression and appears to be dependent on them; he attempts an overdose but throws up. There's also some drinking. While the acting is strong, overall the film feels more manipulative than sympathetic.
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What's the story?
In AFTERMATH, construction manager Roman (Arnold Schwarzenegger) eagerly prepares to pick up his wife and pregnant daughter from the airport. But he arrives to find, to his absolute horror, that they've died in a plane crash. Meanwhile, air traffic controller Jake (Scoot McNairy) was on the job, dealing with downed phone lines and missing the opportunity to save not one but two flights. In the days following, Roman mourns his family, and Jake experiences intense guilt and pain over the accident. A year later, Roman attends a memorial for the crash victims, and Jake has moved to another state and taken a new identity. With help from a reporter, Roman finds Jake's address and decides to see him. All he wants is an apology, but with pain this deep, anything can happen.
Is it any good?
Schwarzenegger and McNairy give powerful performances in this dire, downbeat drama, but the filmmaking frequently undermines them, choosing shortcuts over deeper, more soulful exploration. Inspired by a true story, Aftermath starts awkwardly with an upbeat beginning that basically guarantees -- and cheapens -- the tragedy to come. The subsequent setup for Jake is equally awkward; the first 20 minutes, taken together, show that director Elliott Lester has little feel for human behavior.
The movie feels more manipulative than it does sympathetic, topped off with an almost constant droning, moaning music score and very strange touches like a bizarre, busy wardrobe for Schwarzenegger. (In his grief, he wears a tacky sweater with what looks like geese on it.) Scene after scene consists of the actors trying to convey their inner anguish, with the director unable to do anything but remain on the surface. Admittedly, it's difficult for most of us to comprehend a tragedy this huge, but Aftermath doesn't seem to be able to manage it, either, so what's it's point?
Talk to your kids about ...
Are there "right" and "wrong" ways that the characters experience grief, sorrow, and guilt? If so, what puts them in those categories?
When Roman tells the other man that he'll eventually find a reason to get out of bed, what does he mean?
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